16 Jun How to Protect Your Teeth from Acid Reflux
Chronic acid reflux (also known as GERD) is an uncomfortable condition that affects around 20% of people in the United States. Although it is more common in older adults, people of all ages can have acid reflux—and it can harm their teeth, too.
The stomach acid that flows up into the esophagus to cause heartburn doesn’t just irritate your esophagus. It also eats away at your enamel, the protective outer layer of the teeth.
Signs that acid reflux is causing enamel erosion are tooth sensitivity, chipped teeth, tooth discoloration, and toothaches. If you suffer from chronic acid reflux or GERD, it’s essential that you protect your tooth enamel from erosion.
Six Ways You Can Protect Your Teeth from Acid Reflux
1: Practice Good Oral Hygiene
It’s always important to brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day, and to floss daily. But it’s especially crucial when you suffer from acid reflux, because your teeth are more vulnerable.
Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush, because it is gentler on your enamel. You should also visit your dentist for cleanings and checkups twice a year, so they can repair any damage from acid reflux. However, you may need to make more frequent visits if your acid reflux is severe.
2: Wait 30 Minutes to Brush
Although brushing your teeth is crucial, brushing too soon after eating can actually do more harm than good. Bacteria convert sugars into acid, so when you brush right after eating you spread their acid around your mouth, causing more damage.
You’ll need to wait at least 30 minutes after a meal to give your mouth enough time to neutralize the acids before you start brushing. If you had a particularly acidic meal, or drank a lot of coffee, it’s best to wait an entire hour.
3: Use a Fluoride Toothpaste and Alcohol-Free Mouthwash
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that strengthens your tooth enamel. Make sure to choose a toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride, because it will help protect your teeth from acid reflux.
If you have dry mouth, you won’t be able to produce enough saliva to neutralize the acids. This makes your teeth more vulnerable to enamel erosion, so it’s important to choose an alcohol-free mouthwash that won’t dehydrate your mouth further.
4: Adjust Your Diet
One way you can help ease acid reflux and protect your teeth is to cut back on or eliminate acidic foods and drinks. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, tomato-based sauces, sodas, coffee, and wine are all very acidic and can not only irritate your stomach, but also wear down your enamel. If you can’t give up acidic drinks like soda, you can try drinking through a straw to minimize the amount of liquid that comes into contact with your enamel.
5: Manage Your Acid Reflux
If you suffer from GERD, you should speak to a gastroenterologist about treatment. They may prescribe medications, recommend lying propped up at night, eating smaller meals, and avoiding certain foods. Understanding how to manage your acid reflux will help you find relief from heartburn and prevent damage to your teeth.
6: Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Chewing gum makes your mouth produce more saliva, which reduces the amount of acid in your mouth. Saliva also helps restore your enamel through a process called remineralization. But because sugar actually causes more acid production, only a sugar-free chewing gum will help protect your teeth.
Professional Dental Cleanings in Sun Lakes, Arizona
If you have occasional or frequent acid reflux, it’s crucial that you schedule professional dental cleanings and regular checkups. At Dr. Saba and Associates, we provide preventive care that helps adults in the Sun Lakes community keep their teeth strong and beautiful. If you’re due for a cleaning, give us a call at 480-895-2111 to schedule an appointment.